Domestic concerns hold precedence over international affairs


By Saba Imran

In 2003, the United States entered the Iraq War. Over the next ten years, a sum of over $2 trillion was invested in this war alone.

Distributed evenly, that’s $20 billion every single year for deploying troops, supplying their weapons and flying drones over usually innocent Iraqi citizens. Even now, the U.S. makes up 46 percent of total military spending across the worldIL. That means our nation spends almost half the money spent on weaponry and defense across the entire world, at a sum of $620 billion.

We live in a country that spends over $40 billion yearly on defense contractors, but fails to fund a proper education system. We live in a country that will give $4.5 billion to the Bahrain Petroleum Company in  military funds, but will not implement a proper rehabilitation program for its prisoners. We live in a country that will give over $3 billion to Israel’s defense every year, but draws the line at enforcing proper gun control at home.There need to be examples that highlight the lacking education and prison systems, as well as the issues regarding gun control. IL

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    While all this money is spent overseas, much less funding is given to violent conflict at home. In the United States, the reported number of intentional murders in the year 2013 was 12,253. That is as if 34 people were killed everyday, year-round. While we spend billions of dollars funding governments overseas and maintaining control over foreign political atmospheres, our men and women suffer the blows of poverty and violence at home.

    Flint, Michigan is one of the most impoverished cities in our nation. It’s a city where the median income is $24,834 per year and 40.1 percentIL of residents live below the poverty line. According to FBI Statistics, it has been named the third-most violent city in America. It is tortured by gang violence and economic desolation.

    In December, Flint’s mayor declared a state of emergency due to the toxic levels of lead found in the city’s water source. One might ask how such a crucial point could be overlooked; tests to check for poisonous substances in water supplies are cheap (at about $19.95 for a test kit) and they are supposed to occur regularly.

    So while we spend billions and billions of dollars fixing the political structures of foreign nations to foster political alliances and go abroad to do “nation-building,” our own American citizens, whose rights we supposedly fight to protect, are dying due to negligence and disregard.

    It’s been seen in Compton, where students are dropping out of public schools because of trauma they’ve seen on the streets. It’s been seen in Chicago, where it’s easier to find a gun than it is to buy a vegetable. It’s been seen in St. Louis, where the violent crime rates have continued to rise year-to-year.

    The discrepancy between the United States’s involvement abroad and its involvement at home is not a perfect comparison IL.However, it does highlight some of the key differences between how this country approaches the issues it faces.

    Our country has proved itself quite willing to fund wars abroad for political gain, and yet neglects to implement concrete solutions to increase high school retention rates or decrease gang violence or sometimes even maintain clean drinking water. It is increasingly difficult to justify having troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Israel and Korea when we can’t even work towards a better quality of life for our people at home. It is as if your parents left you in the crib to fend for yourself everyday while they took care of their friend’s baby down the street.

    Billions and billions of dollars are spent every year to expand our military and ensure the safety of our citizens. But with rising murder rates, rampant gang violence, climbing drop-out rates, desperate poverty and token names like “Chi-raq,” it might help more to see these impoverished cities as our very own war zones at home. Then they might be worth a $20 lead test. 

    Saba is a sophomore in engineering.

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